A success story is the combination of an innovative idea, visionary approach and a true dedication to transforming that vision into a reality. Anton Skarlatov’s success story has combined all these elements of success. He had the vision to build something simple, yet comprehensive that can deliver the best possible cleaning services and become a one-stop shop for all home services.
Anton is the Co-founder and CEO of Fantastic Services. Started as a small carpet cleaning company based in London back in 2009, Fantastic Services now works with thousands of fantastic experts, who serve 50000 clients each month and has 530+ successful franchise partners providing 100+ professional home and maintenance services in three continents.
In an interview with The Franchise Universe, Anton Skarlatov shares his success journey, challenges and how he transformed a small company into a major franchising chain.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Give us a brief overview of your journey and challenges in founding the company.
It all started at the end of 2008. At the time, I was running a small cleaning company with no more than 25 employees. My biggest client back then was Lehman Brothers. One day, I went back home, switched on the TV, and the news presenter shot the golden goose – Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy. My small but thriving business was hit hard by the global economic crisis in 2008. I remember going to the office the next day. It was so quiet. There were no calls at all. It was a painful experience that taught me never to put all my eggs in one basket again. Shortly after that, I met Rune Sovndahl and we both quickly realised that we shared a vision and could deliver home services in a much better way by working together. In 2009, Fantastic Services was born.
What is your thought on the necessity of a positive work culture? In what ways do you implement it at your organization?
Throughout the Fantastic Services network, we have built a culture of success and contribution. As a customer-centric business, we are united in our mission to serve. Our 360-degree happiness philosophy revolves around the idea that each Fantastic family member is fulfilled – customers, franchisees, service technicians, and employees. We achieve this through optimising technology operations and allowing everyone to focus on what truly matters.
Rune and I are glad that we’ve built much more than a franchise. We’ve created a family of more than 500 in-house staff, 530-plus franchisees and thousands of technicians.
The Fantastic culture is fostered by great communication, relationships and our dedication to listen to our franchisees, customers and employees. Our communication plan includes regular meetings and feedback, internal webinars and podcasts, focus groups where franchisees meet and discuss important subjects. We encourage everyone to openly share their vision and address suggestions towards optimizing our franchise model.
Please list the services that make your multiservice franchise stand out from the competition.
From carpet cleaning and plumbing to locksmith and Christmas tree decoration, we pride ourselves on being the one-stop shop for both domestic and commercial clients. Our franchisees deliver over 100 services, as the main sectors we operate in are cleaning, gardening and landscaping, handyman, plumbing, electrical, pest control, waste removal, inventory and move out services. We also provide sub-services that require more specific expertise and equipment, for example, professional carpet cleaning, window cleaning and antiviral sanitization. Every new franchisee can choose from a wide range on services, depending on their experience and the demand in their chosen area. Our partners usually start with a main service and a few subservices and gradually expand their service portoflio by including more.
As a Leader, what is your opinion on the effects of the current pandemic on the Franchise Industry and Consumer Services in general?
The outbreak of Covid-19 has had significant economic, political, and social consequences in almost all industries, including the franchising sector; especially with the F&B and hospitality being deeply affected. Luckily, the property maintenance market hasn’t been hit that hard and Fantastic Services remain stable. Due to the pandemic, we’ve had to put some essential business developments behind. However, we’ve developed new services such as antiviral sanitization, minimal contact services and quickly adapted to the new normal. Covid-19 just proved our business unbreakable. It made us stronger, more innovative and focused on what’s important and led us to a new level of excellence. As I like to say: The pandemic determined that Fantastic Services is here to stay.
What is your opinion on the advancements for franchise services to improve the offerings with newer technological developments, especially when it comes to building custom-designed business models?
We are committed to investing 80% of all profit back into the business. Investments are prioritized based on our goals and the service performance. In the past years, we invested over £20 million in automation technology – our own CRM software and two mobile apps, which, apart from cutting costs, help our customers, franchisees and service technicians with booking, scheduling, and virtually all other operational aspects of the business.
In what ways have you contributed to the community? If given a chance, what change would you bring in facility management for franchise services providing the best experience possible for customers, franchise partners and employees?
The past year has been challenging, and uncertainty has become the norm, with many people losing their jobs and small businesses suffering. We saw franchising as a way to provide a viable alternative for anyone whose career is at risk. By encouraging them to re-think their future and discover what the franchise model has to offer, we’ve made an impact on the UK community and the franchising industry, in general. We saw the franchise community come together as never before. We formed Facebook support groups and organized many online webinars as our annual franchise conference.
How do you envision sustaining your holistic care competency in a cutthroat and volatile world of property-maintenance services? Where do you see your Fantastic Services franchising in the next five years?
While addressing the current topics of the pandemics, we also decided it was time to create our vision for the future, challenging people to think ahead and beyond. We set ourselves the mission to help 1,000 people build a successful business worth £1 million in the next ten years. With several of our franchisees already hitting this benchmark, this vision attracted a lot of attention from outside the franchise community and contributed to advancing the cause of franchising.
During the past year, we’ve significantly expanded our franchise network across the UK, as well as internationally, with over 20 new Area Development and Master franchisees. We believe that’s just the beginning. Our goal is to expand our franchise to 40 countries in the next five years.